Sedum pacliyphyllum is one of a group of sedums characterized by thin upright or semi-trailing stems and succulent cylindrical leaves, 5. pachyphyllum itself is easily the most commonly seen and its English name, jelly beans, describes its appearance very well. The branching stems are densely covered with spirals of cylindrical grey club-shaped leaves which in the younger ones point upwards at the tips and flatten out with age. The bluish-green meal can be rubbed off and care should be taken when using certain insecticides, notably mala-thion. as they may cause damage to this covering. The most notable feature of the species is, however, the reddish blotch at the tip of each leaf, a feature which is lacking on the slightly similar S. allanioides and S. ebracleatum. The flowers of S. pachyphyllum are yellow and appear in the early spring on well established plants. One other similar species is S.rubrolmctum but this differs in having the whole leaf tinged red. not just the tip, and if Ihc plants are kept during the summer in a well lit position and slightly on the dry side the whole plant will take on a reddish appearance.
Propagation of all these varieties is best carried out in the spring when mature leaves should be removed from the stem and laid on top of the soil or even with the base of the leaf stuck slightly into the soil. Young plants will then form at the base of these leaves which can later be removed when they are mature enough to be potted up.
Echeveria harmsii is still frequently sold under its old name of Oliveranlhus elegans but the two plants arc in fact identical. It makes one of the finest succulents for any collection and is fortunately fairly easy to obtain. The plant makes a small shrub which subsequently develops a much-branched woody stem giving it the appearance of a little tree. The leaves are broadly diagonal in shape and can be easily detached and rooted to make fresh plantlets. The flowers are produced on long stems from the side of the growing stems even on quite young specimens. Each stem bears one or two red flowers which are tipped with yellow and broadly tubular in shape. Although the bulk of the flowers are produced in spring a large specimen can go on producing more flowers over quite a period of time. It is also advisable to prune the plant occasionally, normally in the autumn, as this will encourage it to maintain its branching habit and prevent it growing too long and leggy.
Crassula arborescens, C. porlulacea and C. laclea all belong to a group of succulents with oval leaves and the appearance of small trees. They are known loosely and collectively as jade plants or money trees. C. arborescens ultimately becomes the largest of them. The leaves converge to a fine point near the stem and widen out at the further edge, which is occasionally tinged with green. It seldom flowers in cultivation and for this reason has been hybridized with the other two species which flower more readily. C. porlulacea is similar although the leaves do not taper so closely together at the base. It flowers fairly freely and the roots are said to be edible. Some of the plants sold as C. porlulacea are almost certainly C. obliqim which tends to have less rounded leaves with a slight point at the tip, but is similar in nearly every other respect. C. laclea is the smallest of this group and has leaves which are joined together. It is valuable as an addition to any collection since it flowers fairly freely on older plants in December and the flowers when they are produced are heavily scented. All four species mentioned in this group will benefit from a sunny position on the rock garden or a patio during the summer, as this helps to ripen up the wood prior to flowers being produced. C. laclea should be pruned occasionally in the late spring to encourage breaks from lower down the stem or it can become a little straggly and swamp a small collection.
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